In Stephen Spielberg’s 2005 film “Munich,” a team of Mossad assassins is sent to Europe to exact revenge for the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre, in which gunmen from the Palestinian Black September group murdered 11 members of Israel’s Olympic team. One by one, using explosives, pistols and poison, the Israeli operatives kill the Palestinian officials allegedly responsible for planning the Olympic massacre. In the end, however, there is no closure; the dead on both sides simply are added to the grim human toll of the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The same futile drama is playing out again. As Israel’s ground war in Hamas-run Gaza enters its second month, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the country’s intelligence services to launch a parallel assassination campaign targeting Hamas leaders wherever in the world they can be found.
“The cabinet has set us a goal. . . to eliminate Hamas,” Ronen Bar, the head of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, announced in a recording aired this past Sunday on Kan, Israel’s state-run broadcaster. “This is our Munich. We will do this everywhere — in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Lebanon, in Turkey, in Qatar. It will take a few years, but we will be there to do it.”
Netanyahu, under heavy criticism for failing to prevent Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre of more than 1,200 people and its seizure of 240 hostages, apparently believes that in addition to ground war in Gaza, the targeted killings of Hamas leaders will help him fulfill his vow to annihilate the Palestinian terror group once and for all and salvage his battered legacy.
If history is any guide, all Netanyahu will achieve is an increase in the body count on both sides of the conflict.